Rev Edward Hartley Dewart

Stradone, County Cavan, Ireland
Death 17 Jun 1903 (aged 74–75)
Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 182115975 · View Source
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The truths I thought would aye abide
Totter and reel at every side....
Though doubts perplex and shadows lower,
I’ll trust His wisdom, love, and power.
--Edward Dewart, teacher, Methodist clergyman, author, and editor

Son of James Dewart and Margaret Hartley.

Edward Dewart migrated to Upper Canada with his parents in 1834. They settled in Dummer Township, now part of Peterborough County, where they adopted the Methodist faith. In 1847 Edward Dewart went to Toronto to study at the Normal School (teachers' training college). Edward Dewart became a teacher in Dunnville, where he also taught at the Wesleyan Methodist Sunday school and spoke for the Sons of Temperance.

Edward Dewart was invited by church officials to become a local preacher, a request that “produced a serious mental crisis.” He regarded the offer of a circuit as “a providential call that I ought not to disregard.” After four years probation he was ordained a minister of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in London, Ontario in June 1855. His first post was in Dundas, Ontario. On 25 June 1856 he married Dorothy Matilda Hunt in Hamilton, Upper Canada. They had three sons, of whom two survived childhood. In the 1850s and 1860s Rev. Dewart preached on many different circuits. Rev. Dewart also became widely known for his poems and essays on religious themes. He urged readers to seek salvation, and warned of the dangers of unorthodox thought.

In 1869 Rev. Dewart was elected president of the Ontario branch of the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic and was appointed editor of The Christian Guardian.He used the journal as a platform for expressing his strongly held opinions. In 1871 he was elected president of the Toronto conference of the Wesleyan Methodist church. He campaigned for union of the different Methodist churches of Canada so they could reduce duplication of effort and better support missionary activity in the northwest. He helped create the Methodist Church of Canada in 1874, and was involved in the lengthy negotiations for further union in the 1880s. With some reluctance, Dewart accepted the position of general superintendent of the unified church.

At mid-century, Rev. Dewart gained national recognition as an essayist and poet. In particular, he warned that the “tendency to freer thought and a greater latitude of opinion in theology” was causing a dangerous drift away from Christianity and toward “hideous uncertainty.” Rev. Dewart'smost noteworthy literary accomplishment was the anthology Selections from Canadian poets, published by John Lovell in 1864. Motivated by his emerging sense of Canadian nationalism, he lamented in his introduction the “coldness and indifference” with which Canadians regarded their own literature. In later life he would be called upon to help select hymns for the new Canadian Methodist hymn and tune book (Toronto, 1894), and three of his own compositions would be included.

Rev. Dewart supported federation of the Methodist Victoria College with the University of Toronto. This would reduce costs, while expanding Methodist influence in the university. Although generally conservative, he accepted the need for some change. Thus he accepted that “evolution is one of God’s modes of working”, a concept that applied in spiritual thought as well as natural science. However, he continued to insist that the Bible was divinely inspired, and to reject attempts to adapt traditional beliefs to fit modern culture. The tenets of modern thought were pushing Rev. Dewart into a rigid conservative stance. At the 1894 General Conference of the church he was removed from his position as editor of the official Methodist newspaper, the Christian Guardian, a position he had held since 1869.

Rev. Dewart ran for provincial election in 1898 as Liberal candidate for Toronto North, but was defeated by George Frederick Marter by a small margin. He died in Toronto on 17 June 1903. His son Herbert Hartley Dewart (1861–1924) was an Ontario lawyer and politician. Hart Dewart is noted for defending 18-year old Carrie Davies shot her employer, Charles "Bert" Massey, as he was walking up to his Walmer Road house in Toronto after work. Carrie Davies contended that Bert Massey had tried to take liberties with her, Hartley Dewart (acting for her pro bono) entered a plea of not guilty, arguing that his client was the one who had been wronged and that she had acted in self-defence. It took the 12-man jury only 30 minutes to acquit Carrie Davies. Some observers opined that the younger Dewart's passion for justice was fueled not by his conviction of Carrie's innocence but by the desire to settle an old grievance between Bert Massey's grandfather and Edward Dewart. In 1888, Rev Dewart and Hart Massey went head to head about federating Victoria College with U of T, a move Rev. Dewart deemed necessary to ensure a Methodist moral influence in Toronto university life. The Dewart forces prevailed, but Rev. Deward felt his that his reputation had been sullied in the process.

See Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume 13
edited by Ramsay Cook, Jean Hamelin; "Masseys on My Mind", by Denny Manchee, published in Watershed

Dewart, Edward Hartley D.D. was born on March 30, 1828 in Cavan, Ireland and was received on trial in 1851. In 1834 he came to Canada and settled in to Peterborough Co. with his family and in 1856 was married to Miss Matilda Hunt of Hamilton (Wentworth Co.) who was born February 2, 1831. He was influenced in joining the ministry by Rev. William Young of Norwood, 1851 Wallaceburg, 1852 on trial, 1852-1853 St. Thomas, 1853-1854 Port Hope, 1854-1855 Thorold, 1855 ordained in June in London, 1855 Dundas, 1856-1857 Superintendent St. Andrews (Ottawa), 1858-1859 Odeltown, 1860 Montreal West, 1861-1863 St John's, 1864 Collingwood, 1865-1870 Elm Street Church Toronto, 1869-1880 Editor of the Christian Guardian, 1870-1871 Ingersoll, 1871 St. James (Toronto), 1879 Toronto, 1884 Trent Bridge Asphodel Twp., 1886 Toronto 1901 living Toronto East

Published in Canadian Methodist Ministers 1800-1925

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  • Added: 6 Aug 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 182115975
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